The Gift of Grouse, a major new campaign to highlight the benefits of grouse moors to Scotland, has been unveiled to mark the start of the shooting season.
The initiative was launched today on the Glorious Twelfth in the Angus Glens by businesses, families and estate staff who all depend on the sector to support their rural communities.
A year-long campaign, the Gift of Grouse will focus on four key pillars – tourism and leisure, employment, environment and conservation, and accessibility – to demonstrate the difference that grouse shooting makes to both fragile countryside communities and to wider Scotland.
A world class country sports destination, Scotland benefits from the domestic and international visitors who visit our uplands. Grouse shooting plays a major part in the £200 million that is generated for the economy by shooting and stalking every year, with 970,000 bed nights purchased by tourists keen to sample the unique welcome that Scotland provides.
This spend extends to the transport, hospitality and entertainment sectors that all benefit from tourists, not to mention the 2,640 full time jobs and £30.1million in wages directly supported by the grouse sector.
The income generated from grouse shooting not only supports vital rural employment but also provides the money to underpin the vital conservation measures carried out on our behalf by land managers and gamekeepers.
Moorland is where the red grouse make its home, but everyone who visits Scotland marvels at the magnificent purple heather that forms the backcloth to Scotland’s natural beauty. It also ensures a rich biodiversity in which all forms of wildlife, including a unique assemblage of birds such as lapwing, curlew and golden plover, can flourish.
And whilst grouse shooting has been long associated with elitism, the range of people participating in the sport is now wider than ever. From clay pigeons to the pinnacle of grouse, there is the opportunity for young and old, male and female to take part. But accessibility is not solely built around the person taking the shot. The whole team around a day on the moor are part of the event, with beaters, flankers and gundog owners coming from varied backgrounds.
The new campaign is being led by the Scottish Moorland Group.
Tim Baynes, Director of the Scottish Moorland Group, said: “We are extremely fortunate to have grouse moors in Scotland that provide us with so many gifts to the nation in the form of tourism, employment, conservation and accessibility.
“The Gift of Grouse is a campaign by which these benefits can be showcased.
“Rural areas that have managed moorland on their doorstep understand the positives that the sector provides, and appreciate the income that flows through the economy as a result of grouse shooting.
“However, we have often not been vocal enough in letting people know how vital the sector is. All too often, there is a deliberate misconception that moorland owners are the only ones to benefit solely from the tourism that grouse shooting provides. That is simply not true, as we can see through the magnificent conservation work that goes on across our hills and glens every day.
“This initiative seeks to demonstrate what the grouse gives to Scotland every year and importantly, to provide testimony from the people and businesses that rely on grouse shooting for their livelihoods. Whilst the Glorious Twelfth is an occasion to start the campaign, the gifts that grouse provide to us run all year round.”
Lesley McArthur, Partner at the Glen Clova Hotel, said: “Shooting related business is very important for us because it extends the season right through the autumn and into winter.
“The Glorious Twelfth is the start of the shooting season and the Angus Glens specialise in high value grouse shooting, with the benefits flowing down through local businesses such as this hotel and the community more generally. We are appreciative for the positive effect that grouse has on our own business and the people we employ.”
Callum Low, a 19 year old gamekeeper in the Angus Glens who earlier this year won the Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year award at the Lantra awards, said without grouse it would have been far harder to develop the career opportunities he has enjoyed so far.
Callum said: “I grew up in Arbroath and developed my love for a career in gamekeeping through the opportunity to work as a beater at Invermark Estate during the shooting season.
“From there, I was offered the opportunity to become an apprentice gamekeeper on the estate, which I did in conjunction with my college studies at North Highland College UHI. After completing my studies, I was offered a full-time, permanent position at Invermark. It was an exceptional opportunity that without grouse shooting would have been far less likely to have occurred.
“We manage the estate all year round, and ensure the best practice in biodiversity and habitat management. That ranges from vermin control and deer and grouse management, helping supervise commercial shooting days to ensuring that the heather clad hills can prosper to their full potential.
“Without grouse, and the income generated by the shooting season, far less of this work would be possible. It is a vital sector for not only encouraging youth employment such as my own but also for providing the resources to underpin our work on the environment and conservation.”